Text Size
Loneliness - Keeping company also keeps you well
01 Jan 2016

Keeping company also keeps you well, by The Selwyn Foundation

In today’s ultra-connected world of Facebook, Skype, phone calls and texts,
it might seem surprising that loneliness could be an issue. For many, it is.

Feelings of loneliness and isolation are particularly problematic issues for our older people. The New Zealand Longitudinal Study of Ageing found that 41% of 50 to 84-year-olds are moderately lonely and of these, 10% (roughly 50,000 people) report feeling severely or very severely lonely.

There are many potential contributing factors to loneliness as people age. Older people may see their kids less or lose a partner or close friend. Decreasing mobility and financial hardship can also play a role. The older generation often has trouble talking about its loneliness, as people do not want to be a burden or appear weak to those around them.

The good news is that there are things we can do to reduce feelings of loneliness and when we do improve our seniors’ mental wellbeing, research shows it pays dividends in their physical health as well, lowering blood pressure, reducing cardiovascular disease and improving memory and anxiety. In fact, the odds of survival among individuals with strong social ties are 50% higher than those without. If you yourself are in the 50-84 age bracket, there’s a lot you can do to help yourself. Get out of the house – you never know who you might meet! Don’t have your paper delivered, but instead walk to the shop and buy one.

Join a club or do some volunteer work, as being with other people goes a long way to making life more interesting. If you can have a dog where you live and are able to care for one, consider getting one. People often stop and talk to those walking their dogs. Better still, come along to one of The Selwyn Foundation’s 42 Selwyn Centres for our weekly community get-togethers, where over-65s can enjoy a cup of tea and a biscuit, companionship and fun.

At The Selwyn Foundation, we’ve been serving the needs of older people and the most vulnerable elderly members of our community for more than 60 years. We do this through charitable outreach, community programmes, by funding aged care studies and research, and through our retirement villages, the surplus of which goes back into our charitable efforts. Underpinning all of this is one fundamental principle. To best care for older people, you have to care about them.

“The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved”, Mother Teresa.

© The Selwyn Foundation 2016.